Intellectual Property

Intellectual Property Criminal Defense

  • Our attorneys include former government trial attorneys, former law clerks to federal judges, law professors, and dual-credentialed CPAs with deep experience in white-collar defense. Nearly one-third of our attorneys serve as law professors at tier-one law schools.
  • Our white-collar attorneys have been recognized nationally and internationally, including being named to U.S. News and World Report’s Best Lawyers in America list, Super Lawyers, and recognized by Chambers & Partners as among the leading attorneys in the United States, including for fraud representations.
  • Freeman’s attorneys have extensive white-collar litigation experience in complex, sophisticated federal matters.

Freeman is a go-to white-collar boutique for intellectual property criminal investigations, prosecutions, and related litigation. Companies and executives facing sensitive intellectual property criminal allegations turn to our white-collar defense team. Our attorneys offer big-firm talent in a collaborative environment; think-tank intellect; and exacting analytical precision. Well-versed in intellectual property criminal defense, our attorneys are trial-ready and battle tested; we’re ready when you are.

The right move at the right time can mean the difference between the right outcome and the wrong one. A white-collar crisis requires an organized, strategic response, often on multiple fronts, framing the discourse and issues. Many of our most successful representations never see the light of day. But when trial is necessary, we defend our clients zealously and strategically.

Freeman is the firm that clients seek out when the stakes are high and the issues are complex.

Intellectual property defense representations often involve an interplay of IP laws, including the following:

  • Theft of Commercial Trade Secrets

    The Economic Espionage Act (EEA), codified at 18 U.S.C. § 1831-1839, makes the theft or trafficking in trade secrets for foreign governments, instrumentalities, or agents a criminal act. The EEA was amended in 2016 by the Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA), which created a federal private cause of action for trade secret misappropriation and underscored Congress’s desire to align closely with the Uniform Trade Secrets Act.

    The Economic Espionage Act prohibits the theft of trade secrets for the benefit of a foreign government, instrumentality, or agent, as well as the commercial theft of trade secrets to benefit someone other than the owner. The penalties are increased for defendants who are companies. By statute, the term “trade secret” includes all types of information with respect to which an owner has taken reasonable measures to keep secret and that has independent economic value.

  • Digital Millennium Copyright Act

    Congress passed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) in 1998 and it served as the mechanism for the implementation of two World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) treaties signed in 1996: WIPO Copyright Treaty and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty. The DMCA enacted specific prohibitions that regulated the circumvention of copyright protect systems and addressed the integrity of copyright management systems. Under the DMCA, criminal enforcement primarily addresses violations of the anti-circumvention and anti-trafficking component of Section 1201 of Title 17 of the United States Code.

  • Criminal Copyright Infringement

    Criminal copyright law protects the exclusive rights of copyright holders outlined at by statute. A person who willfully infringes upon a copyright may be punished pursuant to 18 U.S.C. Section 2319 when the infringement was committed: (1) for the purpose of commercial advantage or private financial gain; (2) by the reproduction or distribution of a copyrighted work totaling more than $1,000 within a 180-day period; and (3) by making a work prepared for commercial distribution accessible via a computer network when the individual knew or should have known of the intended commercial purpose of said work.

  • Trafficking In Counterfeit Trademarks, Service Marks, and Certification Marks

    In the United States, trademarks, service marks, certification marks, and collective marks are protected not only by civil law pursuant to the Lanham Act, but also by criminal law pursuant to the Trademark Counterfeiting Act, 18 U.S.C. § 2320.

    The Trademark Counterfeiting Act provides for penalties of up to ten years’ imprisonment and a $2 million fine for a defendant who intentionally “traffics in goods or services and knowingly uses a counterfeit mark on or in connection with such goods or services,” or intentionally “traffics in labels, . . . documentation, or packaging . . . knowing that a counterfeit mark has been applied thereto.” Penalties may be increased to up to twenty years’ imprisonment and a $5 million fine for certain violations.

  • Counterfeit and Illicit Labels, Counterfeit Documentation and Packaging

    Similar to the Copyright Act, 18 U.S.C. § 2318 is a criminal statute that protects creative works of individuals and organizations from those who knowingly traffic in counterfeit or illicit labels, or counterfeit documentation and packaging for certain classes of copyrighted works. 18 U.S.C. § 2318, however, is not a pure copyright statute and provides protections that vary from those provided by the Copyright Act, or even 18 U.S.C. § 2320.

In the IP-related criminal context, federal prosecutors may seek to impose additional charges against alleged intellectual property violations, such as Wire Fraud (18 U.S.C. § 1343), Mail Fraud (18 U.S.C. § 1341), Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (18 U.S.C. § 1030), and Smuggling (18 U.S.C. § 545).

Our attorneys have experience representing clients in federal and state white-collar matters involving various issues, including:

  • The Economic Espionage Act (EEA)
  • The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)
  • The Trademark Counterfeiting Act
  • The Copyright Act
  • The Lanham Act
  • Other IP laws

Experience Against the Government. Our attorneys have experience navigating, and defending against, a range of government agencies, including the:

  • Department of Justice (DOJ)
  • The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
  • Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Office of Criminal Investigations (OCI)
  • U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS)
  • U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPIS)
  • U.S. Department of State’s Office of International Intellectual Property Enforcement (IPE)
  • Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
  • Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
  • State Agencies

Freeman’s white-collar attorneys also assist corporate and individual clients with responses to government inquiries, including Department of Justice investigations, federal agency investigations, and investigations carried out by state Attorneys General.

Corporations and Executives

Government scrutiny into intellectual property violations can have high-stakes implications for executives and corporations. Our white-collar defense practice represents clients facing threatened enforcement, as well as clients in civil fraud litigation and administrative proceedings. We represent companies, senior executives, public officials, and other individuals in government intellection property investigations and prosecutions.

High Stakes

Government scrutiny into intellectual property violations can have high-stakes implications for executives and corporations. Our white-collar defense practice represents clients facing threatened enforcement, as well as clients in civil fraud litigation and administrative proceedings. We represent companies, senior executives, public officials, and other individuals in government intellection property investigations and prosecutions.


Courtrooms are human institutions.  And when parochial interests threaten the principles of justice, clients need articulate, forceful advocacy.  Clients need advocates with courage and the fortitude to push through the most difficult challenges.

Strategic Representation

White-collar investigations into alleged intellectual property violations test savvy and strategic thinking, necessitating tactical navigation of complex factors. We work collaboratively, developing a strategic plan of attack. Recognizing that indictments in many white-collar matters can be almost as devastating as convictions, we proactively investigate the facts, develop viable defenses, and engage the government in an effort to stop prosecutions short of an indictments.

White-collar matters centered on alleged intellectual property violations often involve simultaneous and parallel criminal, regulatory and civil proceedings. Freeman can navigate the complexities and collateral consequences of multiple proceedings. And when it comes to the court of public opinion, we employ ethical and strategic tactics to manage publicity.


Our attorneys at Freeman employ a proactive approach to defend and strategically position our clients. Our attorneys often initiate interaction with federal and local prosecutors, regulatory agencies, congressional investigators, and the media. The stigma of criminal accusations can impact anyone, especially professionals. Where appropriate, we seek early and rapid intervention, counteracting the impact of an investigation before it becomes public.


Our attorneys exercise sound judgment and discretion. Ultimately, our credibility is our most important attribute. We build upon it through discerning judgment and considered analysis.


Our lawyers are connected, as former government trial attorneys, former federal court law clerks, law professors at top-tier law schools, and leaders in positions of influence in public organizations. We use our firsthand knowledge of government agencies and their investigative protocols to navigate our clients through the morass, leveraging our government experience and contacts.

Experience that Counts

We have experience representing clients against a broad range of allegations and investigations.

Have questions? Refer to our FAQs for Intellectual Property.